Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Unreliable Source May 2017
People who contact the Wikimedia Foundation or experienced project volunteers to request changes to the Wikimedia projects are encouraged to provide evidence or cite reliable sources to support their views. In one recent case, a European performer asked that their birth date be changed in an article on French Wikipedia. However, there were two problems with the identification they provided as evidence: it was a primary and not a secondary source, and it appeared to be fake. In a later email, the requester indicated that it was actually a movie or television prop. The original information and sources remain in the article.
Jury Trial February and March 2017
We received two requests from lawyers representing clients awaiting trial, asking that we remove information from English Wikipedia that could allegedly impact the outcome of the cases. We explained that the user community would be unlikely to remove well-sourced information, but that they could discuss their concerns with experienced volunteers. Jury integrity is a serious issue, and countries balance the rights of the accused and the free expression rights of the public differently. We believe that the public’s right to access accurate information need not be so restricted. If a court is concerned about information available to jurors, a better remedy is careful instruction or sequestration.
For Official Use May 2017
A photographer contacted us about removing from Wikimedia Commons a photograph of Donald Trump. They claimed the photograph was licensed only for the presidential transition team and U.S. government to use. However, the photo has been adopted by the White House for several official uses, and the whitehouse.gov copyright policy places the photo under a Creative Commons license. Due to the confusion about the copyright status of the photograph, experienced Commons volunteers decided to remove the image for now. We encourage governments everywhere to make official portraits and documents freely available to the public, and to be clear about their licensing policies.
Because we did not collect data for projects potentially and actually affected until July 2013, this information is not available for July 2012 to June 2013.
Jan – Jun 2017
Total Right to Erasure Requests
Jan – Jun 2017
Number of Requests Granted
Right to Erasure
The Right to Erasure, sometimes called the Right to be Forgotten, was established in a 2014 Court of Justice of the European Union decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González. It grants individuals the ability to request that search engines de-index or delist content about them. We believe in a Right to Remember. Everyone should have free access to relevant and neutral information; search engine delistings harm our collective ability to remember history and understand the world. In October 2016, we filed a petition to intervene in Google’s appeal of a French administrative order that would expand such delistings from the European Union to all global domains. In July 2017, the French Supreme Court asked the European Court of Justice to address questions regarding the scope of search engine delistings. Despite the fact that the projects are not search engines, we occasionally receive direct requests to remove content from Wikimedia projects under the Right To Erasure.*
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice, much less, request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post notices of delisted project pages that we have received from the search engines who provide such information as part of their own commitments to transparency. But we suspect that many search engines are not even giving notice, which we find contrary to core principles of free expression, due process, and transparency.
Jan – Jun 2017
Total DMCA Takedown Requests
Jan – Jun 2017
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid, and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit.
A Dark Matter March 2017
A photographer submitted a DMCA notice for a photo of an astronomical phenomenon that was used to illustrate an article on English Wikiversity. They also demanded that we pay them a fine, which they argued was required by the laws of their country. We examined their claims, evaluating the photo’s appearance on Wikiversity and the project’s content and fair use policies. After some research and consideration, we decided to grant the DMCA. However, we refused to acquiesce to their erroneous demands for money.
Deletion Discussion February 2017
The Wikimedia community works hard to ensure that all material on the projects is properly licensed. In February, a photographer sent us a DMCA notice requesting the removal of a photo they claimed had been taken from their website. It turned out that the photo was already at the center of an ongoing deletion discussion. We notified them of the discussion, and let them know they could submit a complete DMCA if they wished. But just a few days later, the community decided to delete that photo and a few others that failed to comply with Wikimedia Commons’ licensing policy.
Missing Piece March 2017
DMCA notices must include certain information. When we receive a notice that is lacking, we ask the requester to provide the missing details. In March, we got a partial DMCA notice from someone who claimed that a picture on Wikimedia Commons had previously appeared on their website. We asked them for the missing information. They replied, but still omitted something important: evidence to demonstrate that they held copyright in the photo. We explained that once they had provided this, we could evaluate their DMCA. They did not respond, and the photo remains on the projects.